Maybe you're not running a Fortune 500 company from your basement, and you don't have employees punching in and making widgets at your kitchen table, but chances are, you and your family still conduct "business" at home. You need a place to sit and deal with bills and peruse your kids' report cards; you need a spot for the computer that's used for online gift-buying, e-mail, or checking out that novel you've always wanted to read. Even if you don't have a lot of square footage, you can carve out an attractive, functional work area for you and yours. Here's how.
Be realistic -- what have you got to work with? If there's not an entire room to devote to it, rethink smaller areas like a corner of the kitchen counter, a nook in a bedroom or a part of the living room. Consider a tall hutch with a pull-out or drop-down cupboard that can act as a writing surface when you need it and flip up when you don't. Even a small closet can be converted into a workspace by removing the door and installing a piece of sturdy melamine or painted particle board across it (for the desktop) and shelves above.
According to Sue Bennett of Bennett Design Associates in Uxbridge, Ont., it doesn't matter if you're planning a workspace for children or adults -- standard design principles still apply. The most important one: ample storage. "Plan the desktop over drawers that will accommodate hanging files," she says. And make sure your work surface is between 24" and 30" deep, because you'll need that space to comfortably fit a computer keyboard and monitor. Ideally, the desktop will have grommet holes along the back for electrical cords. Sue also suggests plugging a power bar into your electrical outlet, and then mounting that power bar to the underside of the back of the work surface. "When it comes to home office design, we've also started mounting an extra two electrical outlets high on the wall, behind a small cabinet or door, for all those electronic chargers we all seem to accumulate. This way, the chargers are always plugged in, and you can park your cellphone in a designated, yet hidden, place each evening."
Image courtesy of Pottery Barn